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The death of Princess Diana is surrounded with controversy. In the minds of many people her death is an unsolved mystery. She was rejected throughout her life by her family, her husband, and the Royal family. There were many times she feared for her life. This did not stop her from reaching out to the poor, the sick, and the crippled. She was a leader and a recognizable face in the world of charity, particularly for those ridden with HIV/AIDS and for her Landmine Awareness campaign to reduce the harm those devices are to children (biographyonline.net 5). A true force of kindness and human welfare, Princess Diana influenced many people throughout the world to be selfless in service of the sick and misfortunate. The celebrity status that surrounded her would grow even larger following her untimely and tragic death and some even believe it contributed to her end. In the New Republic article "Feast of Diana", William Powers mentions Diana's brother, Earl Spencer: "I always knew the press would kill her in the end."(Powers 14)
Lady Diana married Prince Charles in 1981 and became princess of Wales, retaining her title after the royal couple divorced in 1996 (biographyonline.net 1). She died at the age of 36, in a tragic automobile accident in the early morning hours of August 31, 1997. It has been revealed that Henri Paul, the driver at the time of the accident, had been under the influence of alcohol and this was instrumental in causing the fatal crash. Also, more than ninety percent of the Britons feel that this accident was all a sham and it was a well planned murder which involved. There are a few reasons to believe that her death wasn't an accident. These include the amount of time it took the ambulance to get to the hospital, the ambulance stopping, poor medical diagnosis, the lack of working cameras in the tunnel the wreck happened in, etc. Most interestingly may be the financial gains of Henri Paul, her driver, who received £120,000 just weeks before the crash from an unknown source (Fields-Meyer 60-67).
Lady Diana was the first Englishwoman to marry an heir to the throne in over three hundred years. The marriage to Prince Charles lasted for fifteen years despite a myriad of affair accusations, a separation, and other strains on the couple. The most notable cause for their separation and eventual divorce was Charles' ongoing affair with ex-girlfriend Camilla Shand (later Camilla Parker Bowles). This affair haunted the marriage for its entire duration. Back in 1982 following an argument over Camilla and Charles relationship, in a desperate plea to gain attention, Diana threw herself off a staircase in an attempt at suicide/infanticide despite being several months pregnant with then to be Prince William (Anderson 43). There were repeated attempts at self mutilation and revolting defiance (Anderson 43).
The marriage problems between Prince Charles and Princess Diana were amplified by media sensationalism in the mid 1990s, probably dooming the relationship. Prince Charles got back together with Parker-Bowls, and Diana had several rumored affairs herself, some of which were conformed and yet others were not (biographyonline.net 4). Following separation and eventual divorce, Diana dated Hasnat Khan, a heart surgeon that she met at the Royal Brompton Hospital, but their relationship didn't last although they had talked about getting married, he believed that he would find the inevitable media attention "hell". She would later be seen with Egyptian millionaire Dodi Al Fayed, who was with her in the car wreck which claimed both their lives (biographyonline.net 4). It is known that the marriage between Diana and Charles struggled from start to divorce. Because of the affairs and rumors many people are driven to imply that there was indeed a murder plot against Diana from somewhere inside Buckingham Palace. Whether or not this was true, her death was a major historical event and a tragic loss.
The wreck took place on 31 August 1997 in the Ponte de l'Alma tunnel in Paris, claiming the lives of Diana, her lover Al Fayed, and driver Henri Paul (biogrpahyonline.net 6). There are many questions surrounding the crash, most notably if a car hit the Mercedes Benz or if the paparazzi caused it. French police reported that Paul had a very high blood alcohol level and also had traces of antidepressant/antipsychotic drugs in his system (Fields-Meyer 60-67). People may conclude that Paul was also driving too fast in a tunnel not made for high speeds. The combinations of speed, route, and driver impairment would certainly be a recipe for disaster. Not so clearly understood is whether or not the paparazzi were a major cause of the accident. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook stated that it would double the tragedy if the wreck was caused by photographers (St. Louis Post-Dispatch 1). Some eyewitnesses have said they saw a white Fiat Uno speeding past the Diana's car before the wreck; investigators matched paint and plastic residue from the Mercedes with a Uno owned by paparazzi photographer James Andanson (Fields-Meyer 60-67). Adding yet more confusion to this is the death of Andanson in 2000. Claimed to be a suicide by French Police his death and the seizing of hardware from his employers office ignited speculation he was murdered because he knew too much, even though he was ruled out of the investigation of Diana's death before his own (Fields-Meyer 60-67).
Following the crash, Mohammed Al Fayed, father of Dodi Al Fayed, began conspiracy accusations claiming his son and Lady Diana were assassinated. M. Al Fayed was a billionaire and owner of the famed London department store, Harrod's (St. Louis Post Dispatch 1). Al Fayed's conspiracy claims centered on his assumptions that the order and manor of events following the wreck showed that there was a murder plot. He reported a nurse had spoken to him about Diana's last wishes, he refused to identify her on grounds of an ethics violation, and that the romance between his son and Diana inspired a murder plot from the Royal Family. As his words state in the book The Day Diana Died by Christopher Andersen, Al Fayed is quoted "This nurse recognized me and had something important to tell me; But she insisted that nobody would know her identity because it was unethical of her to pass on confidential information from an operating theater; I understood, and agreed never to reveal her name" (Andersen 221). He would later state her name, Michelle, and it was discovered she was not on duty that night at the hospital making the nurse he spoke to not real (Andersen 222). A final hole in his story was that Al Fayed did not account for Diana being intubated with an endotracheal tube at the accident scene, making it impossible for her to ever utter any words after the wreck and all the way up to her pronounced death (Andersen 222).
Other conspiracy claims surround rumors that Diana was pregnant. Pictures, claims by Al Fayed, and rumors all fueled the idea Diana may have been up to nine weeks pregnant. Doctors and officials later claimed they knew she was not pregnant, and a coroner claimed the quick order to embalm her body did not prevent a pathologist from doing a postmortem (Fields-Meyer 60-67). In the Time article "Was Diana Murdered? The Theories Live On!" by John Bates, former British coroner John Burton is quoted "She wasn't pregnant. I have seen into her womb" (Bates 1). Another claim is that Henri Paul the chauffeur was a secret agent. It was later confirmed he was a member of the French DTS intelligence service, received large sums of money placed in dozens of bank accounts, and that investigators think he may have been a patsy who was expendable (Fields Meyer 60-67). However there has not been any hard evidence that can link all of this to a crime, to MI6, or anything else to suggest a conspiracy. Al Fayed claimed the blood samples of Paul were swapped at the morgue and French authorities acknowledged an error, but the final result remained that Paul was intoxicated (Fields-Meyer 60-67). Most of the conspiracy claims rest on weak facts or stories with holes. It seemed that Al Fayed had created a romantic love tragedy in his own mind, a fin de siècle potboiler, of Buckingham Palace preventing Dodi from becoming stepfather to the future King of England; this possibly feeding his thoughts of conspiracy and murder against his son and Diana (Andersen 221).
Whether it was an accident or conspiracy, the aftermath of Lady Diana's death was huge. From public mourning to those seeking money from stories, it seemed that the whole world was involved. William Powers describes the Time spread and story of Diana's death in his article "The Feast of Diana", illustrating the ferocity and tabloid obsession bent on making money on her tragic end (Powers 14). An inquest was launched years following Diana's death, not because of the conspiracy but because it is required for sudden and untimely deaths. The verdict concludes the wreck and deaths were caused by drunk driving, high-speed paparazzi chase, and unbuckled seat belts; Henri Paul's blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit and the paparazzi were negligent (Lopez, Perry 1). In the inquest took months, cost millions, and provided closure to Diana's sons. The conspiracy claims were all rejected. Does this prove everything was an accident? Not entirely if certain things are taken into account like the simple weak claims and refutations made by some people who were intimately involved and investigated. However, almost all sides agree that enough has been done and everyone else is ready to move on with life. Despite her tragic end the fond memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, will live on in the minds and hearts of those who knew her, and who were touched by her, forever.